Mary Helen Robison

Miss Mary Helen Robison

The subjects of a November 2021 post on this blog, the Clarence Colton Dawsons, wrote a caption on the reverse of the above photograph identifying its subject:

Miss Helen Robinson [sic], Home Economics Teacher at Goodlettsville, Tennessee, standing in front of Mrs. W. B. Myers home where we all boarded. [signed] Mr. & Mrs. C. Colton Dawson

That the W. B. Myers mansion served as a boarding house for more than one of the teachers at Goodlettsville High School [GHS], not just the Dawsons, was new information to me. This research was complicated not only by the various spellings of her surname, but also by the fact that there were two other Helen Robisons teaching in Tennessee when this Helen was teaching.

Mary Helen Robison (1910-2005) was born in Williamson County, TN to William Thomas Robison, Sr. (1858-1915) and Lillian “Lillie” Mai Wilson (1857-1939), the eighth of ten children. W. T. and Lillie were also natives of Williamson County and he was serving his third term as county trustee at the time of his death. Helen graduated from George Peabody College for Teachers with a bachelor of science degree in June 1931. The Census of 1940 listed her residence in 1935 as “Corners,” in Marshall County, TN, which probably refers to Cornersville where I suspect she taught at the high school.

Helen was the Home Economics teacher and the Home Economic Club sponsor at GHS in 1938. Here are two photographs of Helen that appeared in the 1938 GHS yearbook, Les Memoires:

Goodlettsville High School Faculty, 1938
Goodlettsville High School Home Economic Club, 1938

I’m not sure how many years Helen was at GHS before 1938, but by February 1939 she had moved to Memphis and joined the Teacher Training Faculty at Memphis State College [MSC]. In the Census of 1940, Helen and fellow faculty member Pauline Hilliard were enumerated as renters of apartment #2 at 449 Patterson street for $37.50 per month. Hilliard eventually became Dr. Francis Pauline “Polly” Hilliard (1909-2005), an author and professor of elementary education and curriculum who was chair of the education department at the University of Florida’s College of Education from 1960-1968. Their portraits appeared in MSC’s 1940-1941 yearbook, the Desoto:

Helen Robison and Pauline Hilliard in the Memphis State College Yearbook for 1940-41.

Helen married Lawton Reginald Wadsworth, Sr. (1909-1996) in November 1941. Lawton was a teacher in the Shelby County [Memphis] school system after having been educated at Lambuth College and George Peabody College. Lawton was a native of Ripley, TN, as were his parents, the Rev. Lawton Rhette Wadsworth (1855-1966), a school teacher before answering the call to ministry in the Methodist church, an Eddie Mai Bibb (1888-1838), also a teacher.

Helen was a Methodist, an active member of Alpha Delta Kappa, and served in the Order of the Eastern Star. Lawton was also a Methodist and a Mason. They are buried together in Ripley Memorial Gardens.

The Caption
Mary Helen Robison

That House in Altoona

The house pictured above is located at 2111 Fifth Avenue, Altoona, PA. There is a caption on the reverse [see below] which informs that the folks standing in front of the house are

Aunt Mary Moore
Uncle Willie Moore
Bill Moore
Elizabeth Moore
George Kearney
(Grandpa Kearney in Center)

The mother of the family was Mary Kearney (1866-1955), the daughter of George Kearney (1822-1886) and Catherine Moore (1838-1873). She was married to William Moore (1863-1946), also a native of Ireland, whose parents I was unable to identify. Mary and William arrived separately to the USA from County Donegal in the 1880s and married in May 1890. Their children were William Victor Moore (1891-1988), Elizabeth Kearney Moore (1895-1961), and, not pictured, George Harold Moore (1900-1981).

George Kearney is Mary’s nephew, George William Kearney (1895-1966), and Grandpa Kearney is Mary’s brother, William Kearney (1862-1922), who married Mary Margaret “Maggie” Moore (1864-1942) in 1893. George and Maggie’s other children were Thomas C. Kearney (1899-1901) and Allan Moore “Al” Kearney (1902-1979).

The first mention of the house in the newspapers was in May 1899: A quiet wedding was celebrated yesterday evening at the home of Mr. William Moore, 2111 Fifth avenue, who is a brother-in-law of the bride. The wedding united Mary’s sister Elizabeth Anne Kearney (1872-1939) with James Crawford (1870-1919), both also natives of Ireland. In the Census of 1900, Grandpa Kearney’s family was enumerated at 2107 Fifth Avenue, which had not been built when this photograph was taken. We can date the photograph to 1896-1898.

I suspect the person who wrote the caption on the back of the photograph was one of the Crawford children. I’d explain why I think that, but figuring out the Kearneys and Moores of Altoona in the late 19th Century gave me a headache — I want to move on to the next thing.

Both 2111 and 2107 are still there but, because the GoogleEarth camera did not drive down Fifth Avenue, we can only see them from above:

That House in Altoona

Carlo’s Family

Carlo and family, Vergennes Township, Kent County, MI, July 1893

Above we see Carlo the Dog resting on the ground in the foreground while his family poses around him. I was unable to find Carlo’s vital statistics or any other information about him. From all appearances, he was a good boy. Carlo’s identity and the identities of his family members are inscribed on the reverse of the photograph, along with the date.

Standing to Carlo’s far left is Otis Bailey (1848-1920) and standing in the doorway is Amy Parker (1852-1907). Both were born in Vergennes Township, Kent County, MI and married there in December 1870.

Otis and Amy had two daughters. First born was Nellie M. Bailey (1872-1927) who is standing to Carlo’s immediate right. She married Frank A. Gould (1871-1945) in December 1891 and their first child, Mary Amy “Matie” Gould (1892-1977), who is sitting on the blanket to her mother’s right, was born the following September. Matie married Oscar U. Rivette (1888-1925) in 1912 and they had two children, Zeona Avon Rivette (1916-2001) and Gould Oscar Rivette (1995). Matie’s siblings were Zeona Gould (1894-1982) and Howard O. Gould (1898-1963).

Standing to Carlo’s immediate right is Otis’s and Amy’s other daughter, Grace E. Bailey (1882-1939). She married Bela C. Cowles (1880-1961) in 1912, divorced him in 1916, then married Anthony Baldus (1880-1930) in 1917.

The lady standing near the front porch steps is identified in the photograph’s caption by the apparent nickname “Auntie Duggy.” Assuming that Auntie Duggy was a member of the familly, I imagined that I would find her in an obituary, but the newspapers in and around Kent County are not well digitized. I got lucky in that one of the very few newspaper articles associated with this entire project was this one:

Belding Banner (Belding, Michigan) · Thu, May 21, 1896 · Page 3 Downloaded on Jan 1, 2022

On this slim evidence, I am confident that Auntie Duggy refers to Clarissa T. “Clara” Mason (1835-1907), the only child of Benjamin Mason (1811-1884) and Mary Tompkins (1817-1885). When the photograph was made in 1893, Clara was the widow of Jerome A. Duga (1833-1887), though it appears the marriage had failed earlier because Jerome had married Miranda “Mattie” Griswold in 1880. Clara and Jerome had three children: Henry A. Duga (1856-1916), Josephine Duga (1860), and William C. Duga (1861-1919). Henry had one son who married twice, William J. Duga (1930-2004), but there were no grandchildren.

On 24 November 1900, Clara was honored as a pioneer of Grattan, MI, having moved with her family to the community from New York around the time of its founding in 1844. The Belding Banner observed that the guests spent time eating oysters and chicken pie and

[R]ecalling all the tender memories of those pioneer days when show and pride counted for nothing. When false appearances covered with broad cloth, silk or rich apparel made none famous. When we lived heart to heart, visited our neighbors, knew all their sorrows–like one family, confided in one another and loved one another too. I earnestly ask: are those virtues lost and past, must we ignore plain common sense, or the teachings of conscience to become popular, or is it the glamour of mistaken ideas peculiar to this day and generation, throwing a dazzling unreal over the real, pure and true that our old eyes cannot just at present penetrate?

Belding Banner (Belding, Michigan) · Thu, Nov 29, 1900 · Page 3 Downloaded on Jan 1, 2022

The setting of the photograph was the home of Amy’s parents, Sheldon B. Parker (1827-1912) and Mary Jane Dickson, (1831-1892), both of whom were born in York County, Canada. Below is an 1876 map showing the location of the Parker farm on what is now Bailey Drive Northeast in Kent County. Also shown is the farm belonging to Otis’s parents, Smith Bailey (1818-1884) and Miriam “Mary Ann” Wait (1820-1924) who were both from upstate New York. Use the Vergennes Church on the left and the Flat River on the right as reference points.

Detail of a 1876 Map of Vergennes Township, MI
August 2021 GoogleEarth view of the above detail

If anyone can identify the small wooden structure to Otis’s left, please let me know. I suspect it might have something to do with an underground water cistern. Here is a detail:

Detail of an unidentified structure
The reverse of the photograph
Carlo’s Family

W. B. Myers House

Caption on the reverse: Mrs. W. B. Myers’ home-Goodlettsville, Tenn. Where we lived the first five years of our married life. From Sept. 1927-June 1932. Also Summer of 1933.

The caption on the above photograph appears to have been written by Clarence Colton Dawson (1897-1966), a teacher born in Linton, Trigg County, KY, the son of Thomas Arnold Dawson (1871-1944) and Leona Alice Ricks (1880-1851). He married Mary Elizabeth Riggins (1898-1988) in August 1927. Mary was born in Mintonville, KY, the daughter of John Byron Riggins (1859-1934), a farmer, and Orpha Jane McClure (1869-1962), natives of Columbia, KY. They had one child, John Thomas Dawson (1937-2001) who, apparently, never married.

The house is located at 127 North Main Street in the village of Goodlettsville, TN which is located about 12 miles north of Nashville, the county seat and state capital. It was built circa 1907 by William Benjamin Myers (1870-1925) and his wife Mary Olivia Milam (1872-1956) to replace a house that burned down that year. Myers was the proprietor of B. F. Myers & Son, a dry goods store across the street from the house which his father, Benjamin Franklin Myers (1843-1907), established before the American Civil War. B. F., who was born in New York state and brought to Goodlettsville as a child, was also a founder of the Bank of Goodlettsville of which W. B. was later a vice president. Today the house is the home of the Cole & Garrett Funeral Home and Cremation Services which bought it in 1933. The funeral home is decorated with art depicting Goodlettsville’s history and you can see other photographs and take a virtual tour on their website.

The Dawsons taught school in Goodlettsville while they lived in this house, he in the high school where he taught business and coached athletics, and she as a teacher and basketball coach in the grammar school. Colton, as he was known, received a master’s degree from Nashville’s George Peabody College for Teachers while living there (1931, and another in 1938). Mary received a bachelor of science degree in commerce from Peabody in 1938. Both Mary and Colton were very active in the civic life of the village while they lived there.

Mary taught in West Virginia, Georgia, and Adair, Warren, Franklin, and Trigg Counties of Kentucky. She was a member of the Columbia Christian Church and the Kentucky Education Association, and had been a vice regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution James Thomas Chapter of Trigg County. Colton was chairman of the Department of Business at Berea College and was an assistant professor in the business department at Eastern Kentucky State Teachers College. After his 1928 bachelor of science in commerce from the University of Kentucky and the master’s degrees mentioned above, Colton did graduate work at New York University, Ohio State University, and the University of Kentucky. He worked on a PhD dissertation, History of Tax Administration in Kentucky since 1850, but never received the degree. He was a veteran of WWI, a Mason, and a Methodist. They are buried with John Thomas in East End Cemetery in Cadiz, Trigg County, KY.

Colton (center) was faculty sponsor of the Commercial Club at Goodlettsville High School in 1931 (Nashville Banner, 21 March 1931, p. 28)

I’m doing research for another project and came across this photograph in an online auction a few weeks ago. It was a diversion, but I learned a lot, including some information informing the other project. I was raised in Goodlettsville and a century’s worth of relatives on my father’s side were buried by the Coles and the Garretts. My earliest memories recall being sad, confused, and bored at funerals in that house, open caskets, a break room full of food homemade by friends and relatives, unceasing cigarette smoking and coffee drinking, a bewildering array of relatives (I had about 60 first cousins). Walking the halls of Goodlettsville High School (1917-1985), I frequently looked up at the class photographs hanging in the hallways and probably gazed upon the faces of students taught by Mary and Colton; I probably knew their descendants who were fellow students.

W. B. Myers House

Chester de Hart, a Tragedy

Chester de Hart, upper left
The reverse of the photograph above it
Chester de Hart

Chester de Hart’s surname was spelled a couple of different ways; I’ll keep it simple by using his daughter’s version.

Chester de Hart (1883-1912) was an civil draughtsman by trade and born in New York. He was the second son of Henry Garrett Voorhees de Hart (1849-1917), a physician, and Margaret Adellaide Winship (1850-1909). He married Minna “Minnie” Sievert in 1906. Chester’s and Minnie’s only child was Elaine de Hart (1909-1993) who married Harry Helgans (1894-1965) in 1934. There were no grandchildren.

I discovered only one instance of Chester appearing in a play, Pygmalian and Galatea by Jean-Léon Gérôme, at White Plains, NY on 22 September 1903:

Eastern State Journal, September 05, 1903 Pg. 5, White Plains, New York, US via NewspaperA
Eastern State Journal, September 26, 1903 Pg. 9, White Plains, New York, US via
Chester was later the protagonist in his own personal tragedy.
Eastern State Journal, June 29, 1912 Pg. 3, White Plains, New York, US, via
Suicide has been described as a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Call the number or visit to save yourself and those you love.

Chester de Hart, a Tragedy

M. J. Serbe

I found this one in a pile of random stuff. It was wrapped in ancient cellophane clasped by ancient tape. There are no inscriptions or identities associated with the photograph except for the writing on the store windows, “M. J. Serbe Teas – Coffees” and “M. J. Serbe Spices – Sugars”.

Max John Serbe (1878-1953), born Johann Max Serbe in Berlin to William F. Serbe, born Friedrich Wilhelm Serbe, (1850-1919) and Louisa J. Malke, born Johanne Luise Malke Serbe, (1854-1927). The family and the first five children arrived to the USA in 1884; William took the Oath of Allegience in 1890 and Max was naturalized based on that. William and Louisa had four more children that were born in Maryland.

Max married Eleanore “Ella” S. F. Kronenberg (1883-1951) in about 1902. She was born in Maryland to German-born parents I wasn’t able to identify. Their one child was Milton John Serbe (1905-1952), a newspaper photographer, reporter, and editor, who married a fellow reporter named Norma Lorella Sherburne in Providence, RI in 1939.

Max received a certificate in electricity from the YMCA in 1898 and was running the Columbia Electrical Company in 1933. In the Census records of 1910, 1920, and 1930 listed his occupation as a merchant of tea and coffee, but he was also dealing real estate the whole time and in later years dropped the other enterprises.

Max’s first store was a 776 Columbia Avenue (now Washington Blvd) which he purchased from the estate of William F. Gauer in 1902 for $1000. The house number was sometimes mistakenly written “706” but 706 Columbia was a barbershop owned by Mr. Matthews during these years. Max’s actual residence and real estate business address was 806 Hollins Street.

1905 Baltimore City Directory (1997-2021

George, Otto, and Paul Serbe were Max’s uncles. His father, William, was a piano maker by trade but here is listed as a cabinetmaker. They all lived at 1110 Bowen Street (now Sargeant Street) which was just a couple of blocks away from the tea store.

Max used a wagon to deliver his wares.
Max J. Serbe is pictured on the left in this photograph, from a Peter C. Chambliss (1889-1963) column called “Fisherman’s Luck” which ran in the Sunday and Evening Sunpapers. Max and Milton were avid fishermen.
1940 U. S. Census

I include the above screenshot from the 1940 U. S. Census to illustrate the frustration one sometimes encounters when doing genealogy. In this record, the residents of 806 Hollins Street are recorded as Micheal J. Serbe, his wife Anna V., and his stepmother Victoria. The head of this household’s occupation is listed as the owner of an electronic supply store. The address and occupation are what Max’s would be, but Max had no wife named Anna V. or a stepmother named Victoria. I found no records anywhere else for Anna V. Serbe. The Census taker must have erred in some way.

Do you think the photograph depicts Max holding Milton atop the horse standing in front of 776 Columbia Avenue circa 1906?

M. J. Serbe

Guy Thomas Burroughs

Above we see Guy Thomas Burroughs (1892-1951) who, according to the caption on the photograph, was principal of School #8 in Levant, NY in 1914. If the school building exists, I could not find it. The photograph appears to be inscribed “A Merry Christmas, To Ione” on its water-stained reverse. Below is the photograph from his obituary.

Burroughs was the oldest child of Truman A. Burroughs (1886-1939) and Edith L. Thomas (1862-1918) and a native of Chautaqua County, NY. Burroughs was ineligible for military service because of a condition associated with his right arm which was described as “crooked” and “disabled”. He attended Cornell University, class of 1922 and taught at several public schools in the county. He married Ethel May Chase (1886-1962) in 1917, a teacher from neighboring Cattaraugus County who graduated from Genesco Normal School, and the daughter of Manley L. Chase (1863-1909) and Lucy J. McKay (1866-1943). His only sister was Ione Burroughs (1903-1957) who married Norman Dudley Rowley (1904-1983). His brothers were Lawrence Alden Burroughs (1893-1979) and Forrest Truman Burroughs (1898-1979) who married Ethel M. Ormsby (1899-1978).

Guy and Edith moved to California in 1919. Guy worked for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company until he founded his own direct mail advertising business in 1924. His obituary summarized his life this way,

Professional activities included: former vice president of the Los Angeles Advertising Club, former president of the Los Angeles Exchange Club, former western governor of the Direct Mail Advertising Association, former western vice-president of Mail Advertising Service Association International. He was also a member of the Los Angeles Optimist Club and the University Club. For several years he taught advertising classes at USC. In 1946 he retired from active business on account of his heart ailment. Since that time he has been active in local community affairs. He was a member of the Breakfast Club, and after several years directorship of the Community Arts Association, he was recently made president of the organization. Other activities included the Los Angeles County Orchid Society and Palos Verdes College.

Palos Verdes Peninsula News, Volume XXVIII, Number 43, 16 August 1951 — Community Saddened By Passing Of Civic Leader Guy T. Burroughs

Guy Thomas Burroughs

Butt & Gattis

“Mrs. A. L. Butt & great grand daughter Margaret Gattis” [circa 1950]

Mrs. A. L. Butt was Elizabeth Davidson “Bessie” Townsend (1863-1961) and her great-granddaughter was Margaret Catherine Gattis (1949-2004).

Bessie was born in Logan County, KY to Presley Ephraim Townsend (1823-1896) and Amanda Offutt (1824-1890). In June 1892 she married Dr. Albert Leonidas Butt (1858-1941) who was born in the Richland Station community of Sumner County, TN. They eventually made their home in Danville, KY and are buried there in Bellevue Cemetery.

Bessie gave birth to three daughters. The oldest was Winifred Estelle “Winnie” Butt (1884-1966). Winnie graduated from Logan Female College and, in 1906, from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College as president of her class. She moved to Danville in 1909 to be head of the department of English at Caldwell Female Institute, later Kentucky College for Women. In 1913 she married Judge Henry Green Sandifer and they lived in the Danville house where he was born.

Winnie had two daughters, the oldest of which was Elizabeth Townsend Sandifer (1919-2015). Elizabeth obtained a degree in library science in from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1942 and served as Director of Technical Services for the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives from 1972-1981. She married Walter Robert Gattis, Jr. (1918-1989), a federal and Kentucky state administrator who was awarded a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts during World War II.

Elizabeth Townsend Sandifer’s oldest daughter was Margaret Catherine Gattis (1949-2004). Margaret went to Frankfort County High School [KY] where she was a student journalist and played clarinet in the marching band, then attended Eastern Kentucky University. One genealogical note said her occupation was social worker, but I could not verify that.

I found the above photograph in an antique store in Providence, RI in June 2021. It was in a box marked “$2.00 each,” but the nice lady gave it to me for nothing. I always try to find material when I visit new places and this looked like a good challenge because there are no date or location clues to help start the search.

The reverse of “Mrs. A. L. Butt & great grand daughter Margaret Gattis” [circa 1950]
Butt & Gattis

Newington Park

I picked up a copy of James H. Bready’s Baseball in Baltimore (JHUP, 1998) last year and just got around to reading it a few days ago. On page 17 he talks about an early Baltimore ballpark called Newington Park and included this parenthetical comment:

Why “Newington”? No answer today, except that a housing development some blocks away used that name.

(Bready, 1998, p. 17)

Turning to, a much better resource than the mountain of reels of microfiche Bready was faced with, I quickly found a reference to “Newington Park . . . situated on Madison Street, near the village of Newington” in May 1841 advertisements for the sale of a country estate:

Alfred H. Reip advertised the sale of his country estate, “Newington Park,” in May 1841.

The Newington Park estate is mentioned only in these nine ads, though there are later apparent references to the property and of the furnishings of Reip’s estate. The village of Newington is mentioned one other time, in an April 1845 ad for a property on Pennsylvania Avenue, an ad that closely resembled the ads for Newington Park.

Reip’s Newington Park estate seems to match what is known as the Madison Avenue Grounds (later Monumental Park) as seen in this detail from E. Sachse, & Co.’s bird’s eye view of the city of Baltimore, 1869, particularly the “stabling for four horses and four cows”:

Detail from E. Sachse, & Co.’s bird’s eye view of the city of Baltimore, 1869

Bready noted the clearly visible two entrances, one for men and one for women, the grandstands, and the American flag.

The generally accepted location of the Newington Park baseball field is a few blocks west of Reip’s estate, on the west of Pennsylvania Avenue in the vicinity of Baker Street. There was also a Newington Building Association which may have been established to dispose of the property of the Newington Academy which was located in the same area.

Alfred H. Reip (1811-1895) was probably best known for inventing the rotary mechanical egg beater which he patented, along with Ralph Collier, in 1856 and he was the proprietor of The Housekeeper’s Emporium located at 337 Baltimore Street, near Eutaw Street. He was killed by a White Line cable car at the corner of Eutaw and Fayette Streets; Charles Bosley, the gripman, was exonerated by the inquest. Cardinal Gibbon, Archbishop of Baltimore, was present at his funeral which was held at the Baltimore Basilica.

There is some work to be done on the names and locations of Baltimore’s early baseball fields despite all the work already done. I can’t do that work now, but I’m leaving this tidbit here in case I get the chance to take another look at it in the future.

Newington Park

Guyan Valley H. S.

Guyan Valley High School, 1 August 1927

Above is a photograph of the students of Guyan Valley HIgh School taken on 1 August 1927.

Guyan Valley High School was located in Pleasant View, WV along the west bank of the Guyandotte River. The school was built in 1926 and graduated its first senior class of eight students in 1929. The school and three other area high schools were merged to form Lincoln County High School in 2006. The old school building now houses the Guyan Valley Junior High School.

At far left is Fred Bussey Lambert (1873-1967) who established the school. Lambert was a dedicated regional historian and the Fred B. Lambert Papers are available online via Marshall University’s Marshal Digital Scholar.

This photograph was purchased at a Baltimore antique store in April 2021.

Guyan Valley H. S.